Best Soil For Marijuana Seeds

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What is the best soil for cannabis growing and is it easier/cheaper to make it yourself or buy it? Read on to find out more about the best soil Soil is the root of all plant life. Plenty of high-quality cannabis soil preparations are now available for growers with all different cultivation styles What is Good Soil For Growing Cannabis? When it comes to growing cannabis in soil, unless you’re using a brand that is known for making soil that is specifically cannabis-friendly, there are a

How to choose the best soil for cannabis

Growing your own cannabis in soil is regarded by many as one of the easiest ways to produce high quality crops of delicious tasting buds. But what is the best soil for cannabis indoor growers? What about the best type of soil for outdoor cannabis? The best soil for cannabis combines excellent nutrition and good water retaining properties along with good drainage and an optimum pH.

What are the main traits of the best soil for cannabis?

The best soil for growing cannabis has several important functions to perform in order to allow healthy growth of the cannabis plant and the roots. There is a huge range of options from cheap supermarket soil to expensively blended specialist soils. Not all of these are ideal for growing cannabis. Here are some of the most important features for anyone seeking the best soil for cannabis growing:

Texture
Cannabis doesn’t grow well in heavily compacted, dense soils. The best soil mix for cannabis tends to be light and airy. This allows good levels of root oxygenation, especially when combined with air-pots or porous fabric root sacks. Healthy cannabis roots will thrive in a light, aerated soil.

Related:
Cannabis roots. The importance of root health for cannabis growth

Drainage
A perfect soil mix for cannabis allows good drainage. Waterlogged soil results in poor root health and subsequent slow growth. If you water your plants and notice surface water forming in pools it is an indication that your soil may have poor drainage.

Water retention
The best soil for cannabis has good drainage qualities but at the same time it is able to retain some moisture for the roots to absorb.

pH value
The best ph for cannabis in soil around 6. Some growers ask ‘how to test soil ph for cannabis?’ You can buy specialist kits which measure soil pH, though many soil growers have never worried about testing pH. To some extent soil is self-buffering, meaning that soil growers need not worry about e.g. pH-adjusting their nutrients in the way that many hydroponic growers have to. Using a larger plant container with more grow medium enlarges the buffer zone and is the preferred approach by many soil-using cannabis growers.

Nutrients

Most soils contain a reasonable level of nutrients. These eventually become depleted, requiring the grower to use perhaps a bloom nutrient as the plant flowers. Nitrogen (N), Potassium (K) and Phosphorus (P) are the main nutrients, but there are plenty of other important trace nutrients which are also required.

Some growers like to avoid having to feed a bloom nutrient. Instead they try to make the best organic soil for cannabis which can feed the plant for the bulk of it’s life.
This can be done with slow release organic nutrients from companies such as BioTabs. Simply mix the slow release organic nutrients into your soil mix. One tip is to use a large initial soil container (e.g. 50 litres or more). With such a large reserve of nutrients in a large container of soil you may be able to avoid the worry of bloom nutrients for much (or even all) of your grow.

Related:
A visual guide to cannabis nutrient deficiencies

Organic soil vs soil mix

A good organic soil is often produced with generous levels of compost, peat and slow release nutrients which are broken down in the soil by beneficial bacteria. Some of these specialist soil can cost upwards of €/£/$ 50 per 50l bag and are said to contain sufficient nutrition for (almost) the entire grow.

The best soil mix for cannabis is often produced by blending several starting ingredients. The ingredients may include additives that are proven to be useful, such as bat guano, worm castings, dolomite limestone (contains Calcium & Magnesium), coco fibre, mycorrhizal bacteria as well as a high grade nutrient-rich soil/compost.
Many growers have found good results with peat based soils which don’t contain wood products. The absence of wood minimises potential problems later on with fungus gnats which thrive in a warm indoor grow room.

Lightmix is a blended soil type which is often used in the cannabis growing community. It contains a mixture of ingredients together with added perlite to make the medium more aerated. It also contains a small amount of nutrients, sufficient for the first weeks. Lightmix soil preparations are a good starting point for inexperienced growers.

The best soil for cannabis seeds and seedlings

Note that the best potting soil for cannabis seedlings and seeds is often a very light mix with low nutrient levels. Young cannabis plants and roots are easily burnt by soil which contains too many nutrients. The best soil for seedlings allows rapid root growth in the light, aerated soil. For young seedlings, nutrition is not as important as it is for mature plants in full bloom. In fact, a light mix with few nutrients is great for seeds and seedlings. Special soil types optimised for seedlings are available, such as Terra Seed Mix from Canna.

Photoperiod vs autoflowering cannabis soil

A good quality cannabis soil will give equally impressive results whether you are growing autoflower seeds or photoperiod feminised seeds. Don’t worry about making or purchasing different soil types. The cannabis roots have to absorb the same minerals and nutrients. There is simply no need to source different soils for your autoflower seeds and your feminised seeds. The best cannabis soils work well for both.

Best indoor vs outdoor soil for cannabis

Indoor cannabis growers are spoilt for choice when it comes to soil options. Many of the top brands do a great job. Some indoor growers are reluctant to change from their preferred soil choice once they feel settled with a particular soil recipe which works well for them. As well as trying to grow in the best soil for cannabis, indoor growers also try to fine-tune and improve their grow room conditions.

Related:
How to grow cannabis indoors
Optimising your grow room conditions

Many outdoor cannabis growers simply use the existing outdoor soil. Sometimes this can be supplemented with well-rotted manure and other additives. Experienced outdoor growers will test the soil with specialist test kits and amend the soil accordingly. If the outdoor soil is simply too low in nutrients/quality (e.g. too sandy) then it can be supplemented by high quality soil form the grow shop. Remember cannabis has been growing outdoors without human intervention for hundreds of thousands of years. Cannabis can grow well in many outdoor soil types.

Outdoor growers can grow their plants in the ground or in containers. When growing in containers avoid dark coloured/black containers which can get very hot in direct sunlight and ‘cook’ the root ball. This can slow growth rates or even kill the plant.

When growing cannabis outdoors in hot, dry regions some growers add water absorbing crystals to the soil. These are water retaining polymers (as used in babies nappies) which can greatly increase the water retention properties of your soil.

Related:
Growing outdoor cannabis
Top 5 outdoor cannabis seeds

Store-bought vs homemade cannabis soil

Many less experienced growers find it convenient to buy ready-made soil from their grow store. The more professional ‘living soil’ blends can be very expensive. That’s why some growers like to save some money and create their own soil blend themselves.

Note that there is not a single, definitive ‘best soil recipe for cannabis’. Cannabis grows well under a wide range of conditions and substrates. But if you want to know how to make your own soil for cannabis you may find the following recipe a good starting point. But remember you can vary the ratio of ingredients and even add your own supplements until you reach a blend that works well for you.

Basic cannabis soil recipe

Your choice of ingredients is quite wide. You can lighten the soil mix with coco coir, perlite, vermiculite or even sphagnum moss according to your preferences. Here is a suggested mix.

Main ingredients:
• 1 part coco fibre
• 1 part perlite
• 2 parts compost
• 1 cup of worm castings

Note. Other popular additives include small amounts of blood meal, dolomite lime, fish meal, bat guano, peat, bone meal etc. Mycorrhizal and other beneficial bacteria are also great at breaking down the soil and gradually releasing more nutrients. They are highly recommended to create a healthy ‘living’ soil.

Steps to follow:
• Sieve the compost to remove/break down any large lumps
• Place the sieved compost in a large mixing bucket and add the other ingredients
• Using your hands, ensure that all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed together.

Remember you can modify your recipe as you gain experience. But not everyone has the time to manually prepare and fine-tune their soil mixtures. For some people it’s easier to buy a proven brand of soil mix from the grow shop. For some growers the best cannabis soils are simply the easiest grow medium in which to produce the finest tasting organic cannabis.

Digging into the dankest dirt: the best soil for growing cannabis

Soil is the root of all plant life…because it literally feeds the roots! Sure, you could use hydroponics to grow cannabis, but despite the extra work, hydroponic systems don’t appear to improve cannabis plant growth or potency over soil which is the tried and true growing medium for marijuana. Despite soil’s relative lack of precision compared to hydroponics, it remains the preferred medium for numerous seasoned cannabis cultivators – and is obviously the way nature intended, as cannabis was growing wild long before humans started domesticating it. 1 2

While many home-growers admire soil, few cultivators can agree on the best soil for growing cannabis. Finding the perfect balance of nutrients, aeration, and water retention can take some time for new and even professional growers to figure out. Not to mention the numerous variables that can influence which soil is ideal, including watering and feeding patterns, types of grow-container used, and even the origin of the variety (or strain) being grown. Thankfully, plenty of high-quality cannabis soil preparations are now available for growers with all different cultivation styles.

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Ocean Forest Potting Soil

  • Suitable for potted plants that are moderate to heavy feeders
  • Indoor or outdoor
  • Price: $16.99 – $700+, depending on size

Happy Frog Potting Soil

  • Suitable for potted plants
  • Indoor or outdoor
  • Price: $16.99 – $700+, depending on size

Fox Farm “Bush Doctor” Coco Loco

  • Suitable for potted plants
  • Indoor or outdoor
  • Price: $16.99 – $700+, depending on size

Nature’s Living Soil Autoflower Concentrate

  • Specialized for autoflowering seeds
  • Indoor or outdoor
  • Price: $24, $43, or $68

Purple Cow IndiCanja Organic Living Soil

  • Suitable for potted plants
  • Indoor or outdoor
  • Price: $35.00

Roots Organics Formula 707

  • Suitable for large-container plants
  • Indoor or outdoor
  • Price: ~ $40 – $75

Mother Earth Coco Plus Perlite Mix

  • Suitable for potted plants
  • Indoor or outdoor
  • Price: ~ $75

Ocean Forest Potting Soil

  • Suitable for potted plants that are moderate to heavy feeders
  • Indoor or outdoor
  • Sizes: 12 quart, 2 cubic foot, 27 cubic foot tote, or 55 cubic foot tote
  • Not organic
  • Price: $16.99 – $700+, depending on size
  • contains additions like fish emulsions and crab meal for high nutrient density
  • one of Fox Farm’s most nutrient-dense potting soils
  • full of rich soil amendments like bat guano, crab meal, and fish emulsions

Of Fox Farm’s many best-selling mixes, Ocean Forest usually ranks as the company’s best potting soil for cannabis. This soil formula is more nutrient-dense than Happy Frog, which makes Ocean Forest less reliant on supplemental nutrients. While this could pose problems for young plants, it will help vegetative plants grow to their full potential.

Ocean Forest gets its name from its high concentration of amendments like fish emulsion and crab meal. Ocean Forest’s formula makes nitrogen deficiencies nearly impossible with plenty of earthworm castings and bat guano.

You may need extra nutrients during flowering, but it’s essential to have a light hand when using supplements. Ocean Forest is “hotter” than other potting mixes, so it’s best to cut your recommended feeding schedule by at least half.

If cultivators find Ocean Forest is too hot to handle, they may want to dial it back with milder formulas. For instance, many people enjoy combining Ocean Forest with Happy Frog. Once people learn to use Ocean Forest, they often rave about its performance.

Happy Frog Potting Soil

  • Suitable for potted plants
  • Indoor or outdoor
  • Sizes: 12 quart, 2 cubic foot, 27 cubic foot tote, or 55 cubic foot tote
  • Not organic
  • Price: $16.99 – $700+, depending on size
  • well-balanced
  • mild potting soil ideal for beginners

One of Fox Farm’s “less hot” potting soils, ideal for delicate seedlings.

Excellent soil for beginners who don’t mind adding supplemental nutrients.

Makes it easy to avoid overfeeding and “nutrient burn.”

The Happy Frog Potting Soil is considered one of Fox Farm’s “weaker” soil formulas, but that’s not a criticism! Unlike Ocean Forest, Happy Frog focuses on the beginning stages of growth when plants can’t handle excessive nutrients.

Many cultivators use Happy Frog to give their seedlings a safe space to mature. While Happy Frog has additions like earthworm castings and bat guano, you’ll need to add nutrients as cannabis gets into the vegetative stage.

The allure of Happy Frog is in its simplicity. New growers often have the best time with this soil because they can easily follow their supplemental nutrients’ guide.

Anyone who fears they’ll “overfeed” their cannabis plants should start with a bag of Happy Frog. As you gain more experience with cultivation, consider mixing Happy Frog with more fertilizer-rich formulas during flowering.

Fox Farm “Bush Doctor” Coco Loco

  • Suitable for potted plants
  • Indoor or outdoor
  • Sizes: 12 quart, 2 cubic foot, 27 cubic foot tote, or 55 cubic foot tote
  • Not organic
  • Price: $16.99 – $700+, depending on size
  • rich traces of coco coir provide high-quality pest resistance and water retention
  • high coco coir formula with plenty of nutrient-rich amendments
  • superior water retention and pest resistance

As its name hints, Fox Farm’s Coco Loco formula largely consists of the inert medium coco coir. Unlike plain potting soil, coco coir only has noteworthy traces of potassium. In fact, coco coir is often viewed as a “stepping stone” medium for those transitioning from soil to hydroponics.

While not every grower is a fan of coco coir, it has many excellent features like water retention and pest resistance. Plus, since Fox Farm’s Coco Loco adds ingredients like kelp, bat guano, and earthworm castings, there’s less need to fear nutrient deficiencies.

With Coco Loco, you get the benefits of growing in coco coir without having to significantly adjust your feeding schedule. You may, however, need to tweak your watering schedule, especially if you don’t add perlite which aids in aeration, allowing more oxygen to get to the roots. Coco coir retains moisture more than other mediums, so please resist the urge to overwater!

Nature’s Living Soil Autoflower Concentrate

  • Specialized for autoflowering seeds
  • Indoor or outdoor
  • Sizes: 1 lb., 5 lbs., 10 lbs.
  • Organic
  • Price: $24, $43, or $68
  • rich collection of amendments and microorganisms well-suited for autoflowering plants
  • includes high quality additions ranging from bat guano to bone meal
  • easy to add to regular potting mix for extra root support

Want to create a “super soil” in the shortest amount of time? Try adding Nature’s Living Soil’s Autoflower Concentrate to a generic potting mix.

This well-reviewed soil amendment is so potent you only need to add one pound per five-gallon container. Nature’s Living Soil promises its signature product is “pre-cooked” and contains dozens of beneficial bacteria for autoflowers.

Cultivators are impressed with the wide array of extra compounds like organic earthworm castings, fishbone meal, and kelp. The company also puts beneficial fungi in its formula, which may even give it a slightly “moldy” (but harmless!) appearance.

While Nature’s Living Soil’s Auto Concentrate may seem too hot (or nutrient rich), it’s recommended for all stages of an auto’s life cycle. So, if you want to give your autos a boost, it may be worth your while to mix in this unique concentrate.

Purple Cow IndiCanja Organic Living Soil

  • Suitable for potted plants
  • Indoor or outdoor
  • Sizes: 15 pounds
  • Organic
  • Price: $35.00
  • organic, compost-based “super soil” mix
  • premade “super soil” with dozens of beneficial microorganisms
  • ultra-green organic formula made with compost

Purple Cow may not be as famous as Fox Farm, but it’s gaining attention with fans of “super soil.” This organic soil mix relies on compost to give it higher traces of bioavailable nutrients and bacteria.

According to Purple Cow’s founders, you won’t need any supplemental nutrients when planting your cannabis in this “living soil.” That’s right; just water your soil, and watch your plants grow! While IndiCanja Living Soil may be too intense for seedlings, it should be all you need for mature plants.

Experienced cannabis growers who are curious about “super soils” may want to experiment with Purple Cow’s Living Soil. While IndiCanja may not replace a DIY super soil, it’s far more convenient to try at home.

Roots Organics Formula 707

  • Suitable for large-container plants
  • Indoor or outdoor
  • Sizes: 3, 10, and 20-gallon bags
  • Organic
  • Price: ~ $40 – $75
  • less nutrient-dense formula tailored for advanced growers
  • low-nutrient potting soil that’s ideal for growers who enjoy mixing DIY formulas
  • formula 707’s packaging doubles as a pot

Forget about the ingredients for a second; Roots Organics’ Formula 707 has one of the most fascinating packages. These large container bags could double as your cannabis plant’s pot. Simply cut off the bag’s top and put your plants in. Talk about convenience!

But Formula 707 is way more than its unique container. While this soil mix has fewer nutrients than other formulas, that’s on purpose. Roots Organic intended this formula to accommodate advanced planters who like to make DIY mixes.

You should have some experience adding fertilizers and amendments like perlite before opting for Formula 707. While this may not be optimal for beginners, it’s a worthy choice for cannabis cultivators who crave control.

Mother Earth Coco Plus Perlite Mix

Suitable for potted plants
Indoor or outdoor
Sizes: 27 lbs.
Not organic
Price: ~ $75

  • pre-mixed formula of coco coir and perlite helps balance out drainage and water retention
  • high coco coir formula that gives home-growers optimal control
  • pre-mixed with 30 percent perlite for improved drainage

Like Fox Farm’s Coco Loco, Mother Earth’s Coco Plus Perlite Mix is an excellent choice for coco coir cultivation. This formula has the extra benefit of ~ 30 percent perlite, a useful component of soil which massively improves drainage, water retention and aeration.

While this formula is pretty “bare bones” (literally), that may suit growers who prefer adding macro and micronutrients. Indeed, anyone who struggles with “nutrient burn” may enjoy the superior control Mother Earth’s Coco formula provides.

Also, using coco formulas allows you to “test the waters” before opting for a hydroponics setup. Since coco coir is essentially an inert medium, it gives cultivators a taste of what hydroponics growing is all about.

What soil type is best for growing cannabis?

A quick tour of online weed forums will reveal many heated debates over the “best” soil for cannabis. While every master breeder has their preferred potting mix, there’s no such thing as the “best soil for growing weed.”

There are, however, some traits that all of the best soil mixes for cannabis share. Home-growers should consider key features such as:

What’s the ideal cannabis soil texture?

In terms of soil texture, cannabis prefers the “golden mean.” What we mean is that marijuana likes soil that has a fair balance of aeration and cohesion. Indeed, most cannabis forums describe the optimal soil texture as “loamy.”

Technically, “loam” combines three soil varieties: clay, sand, and silt. While you could use sand or silt on their own, they tend to be too extreme for optimal cannabis growth.

Sand is great for drainage, but poor at water retention. Silt is just the opposite. So, by merging these soils with water-retaining clay, loam offers an ideal balance for maturing marijuana plants.

It is common for cannabis growers to combine mediums such as coco coir or peat with additions such as perlite, lime, and organic matter (e.g. compost) to recreate the beneficial properties of loamy soil. 3 4

What about nutrient levels?

Cannabis plants require significant nutrients (minerals) to support their rapid growth during their one-season life cycle, and this is why they thrive in highly fertile soils. Generally the main minerals affecting cannabis plant growth are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K), but other many macro and micronutrients are also important to plant health. 5 6

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Thankfully, cannabis can handle a wide range of nutrient levels without serious negative effects on plant growth and a major benefit of using soil is that it has greater buffer capacity over hydroponics.This means it’s less likely you’ll over- or under-feed your weed versus hydroponics. 7

Cannabis plants require different nutrient compositions at each stage of plant growth, i.e., propagation, vegetative and flowering. In other words, baby plants don’t need the same nutrition as teenagers do, and that too is different from what mature plants need to thrive.

Cultivators should evaluate how many fertilizers are in their soil mix and should also avoid time-released nutrients, as these can seriously disrupt a growing operation.

Generally, the more nutrients there are, the better drainage you need for your plants. While you want your plants to absorb nutrients, you also want to make sure they’re not getting overburdened with a build up of nutrients. Some growers “flush” out excess nutrient minerals during the final two weeks of flowering. 8

It’s common for new cultivators to overfeed their plants, especially when using soil. To avoid this common temptation, novice gardeners should start with soil mixes with minimal fertilizers.

What’s the perfect pH for cannabis soil?

Evaluating a soil’s pH is just as significant as checking out its texture. Cannabis roots cannot absorb nutrients if the pH ratios are out of whack.

While the optimal soil pH for cannabis has not yet been studied in the scientific literature, the common ranges of pH used in the cannabis industry are 5.8 – 6.2 for hydroponics, and 6.8 – 7.2 for soil. 9 10 Jin D, Jin S, Chen J (2019) Cannabis Indoor Growing Conditions, Management Practices, and Post-Harvest Treatment: A Review. American Journal of Plant Sciences 10: 925-946 11

While many soil companies will advertise their soil as “pH-corrected,” cultivators should always double-check these claims. Use a high-quality pH monitor to verify your soil will support healthy nutrient absorption.

How much soil do you need for cannabis plants?

While examining what’s in your soil is crucial, you also must consider how much soil you need. Nobody likes to have a big bag of unused soil sitting around in their space.

On average, home-growers use a three-gallon pot for each cannabis plant. In this case, most cannabis cultivators recommend about 1.5 cubic feet of soil for three cannabis plants in these containers.

Keep this average ratio in mind when evaluating how much soil to stock up on.

What’s the best soil for autoflowers?

Thanks to their ruderalis genetics, autoflowering seeds are tougher than most photoperiod strains. In fact, many cultivators claim it’s not good to pamper auto seeds with well-fertilized soil. That’s because autoflowering varieties are usually short in stature and have a shorter life cycle.

If you opt to use nutrient-dense soil formulas, it could easily cause “nutrient burn.”

Autoflowering fans should stick with simple potting soil for the best results. Some cultivators also express great success using a mix of peat moss, coco coir, and a bit of perlite for their autos.

Remember autoflowers don’t grow as large as regular cannabis strains. Be sure to factor in your auto’s average height before purchasing a bag of soil.

So, what’s the best soil for marijuana? You choose!

As you start “digging” through all the soil brands online, you’ll find so many options to choose from. From nutrient-dense “super soils” to inert coco coir formulas, there’s no “set soil” for cannabis cultivation. Indeed, finding the ideal soil for your cannabis grow operation will depend on your preferred growing style and the type of plant you’re growing.

Anyone new to cannabis cultivation should probably opt for a simple potting mix. While these may not give the “best results,” they tend to be the most forgiving. As you figure out your preferred growing style, you may want to experiment with flaming “hot” super soils or virtually inert coco coir mixes.

Just remember to constantly track the basics like pH, aeration, and water retention when experimenting with cannabis soils. No matter how advanced your soil claims to be, it will not work if these metrics aren’t in order.

What is Good Soil For Growing Cannabis?

When it comes to growing cannabis in soil, unless you’re using a brand that is known for making soil that is specifically cannabis-friendly, there are a few things that you need to consider before starting a grow.

What should you look for in good cannabis soil?

I think most growers agree a good cannabis soil should look dark and rich, with a loose texture that drains well and can hold water without getting muddy (you want wet soil, not dirt-batter!). But beyond that, what do you look for?

The following video shows the soil texture you want (this is Coco Loco, an excellent soil for growing cannabis)

Some growers choose an amended and composted “hot” soil that slowly releases nutrients over time. With this type of soil, you typically just add water or natural supplements like worm tea from seed to harvest. Other growers prefer a lighter potting mix so they have more control, and give nutrients in the water once the plant roots have used up the nutrients in the soil. But which brands can you trust?

Some popular soil examples that I’ve used with good results include:

  • Almost any organic soil potting mix – If you can’t order special soil online, ask for the best soil at your local gardening store. You can use almost any organic soil potting mix to grow cannabis. I say “organic” because that cuts out a lot of potentially problematic ingredients like slow-release chemical nutrients (which often cause nutrient issues in the flowering stage by delivering too much Nitrogen). If asked what you’re using it for, say tomatoes. You should plan to start adding extra nutrients in the water by the time a plant is a few weeks old as the roots will quickly use up everything. Try to look for soil with a rich and dark but loose texture. It’s a good sign if you see little white pebbles mixed in (this is perlite, which makes soil drain better). If a soil looks like dirt or mud, it’s no good!
  • Roots Organics Original – This was the first soil mix I ever used to grow cannabis and I had a great experience. I’ve moved on to Fox Farm products because they were available at my local hydroponics store, and now I’m hooked on Coco Loco. But Roots Organics Original soil has been around for a while because it works great. As with most soil mixes, you will need to supplement plants with additional nutrients after a few weeks.
  • Fox Farm Happy Frog soil– This soil mix is relatively light on nutrients so it’s great for seedlings. It’s also suitable if you plan to give nutrients in the water from seed to harvest. If you don’t add extra nutrients, your plants will use everything in the soil up quickly.
  • Fox Farm Coco Loco soil– A coco-based soil mix with enough nutrients to last your plants for a few weeks. With Coco Loco, you should start supplementing with extra nutrients once plants are 2-3 weeks old. I personally like Coco Loco the best of any soil mix I’ve used. You can use it by itself and it’s also my favorite base potting mix for a “just add water” super soil grow. I feel like plants tend to grow happy and healthy while being more resistant to over or under-watering compared to the other soil mixes I’ve tried. It’s great soil for other types of crops too.
  • Fox Farm Ocean Forest soil– A “hot” soil mix with lots of nutrients packed inside. You can start seedlings directly in this mix though they may show signs of nutrient burn at first until they get adjusted. Ocean Forest has enough nutrients to last your plants quite a while, though you likely should still give extra flowering nutrients once your plants start making buds in order to get the best yields, density, and bud quality. Cannabis plants need a surprisingly lot of nutrients in the flowering stage and you don’t want to starve the plants right as buds are forming.

Recommended soil nutrients:

    – These 3 bottles include everything your plants need from seed to harvest. The FF trio produces superb weed with any high-quality soil.
  • Learn about other cannabis-friendly nutrients

Important Cannabis Soil Considerations

  • Texture
  • Drainage Ability
  • Water Retention

Although that list looks vague and complicated at the same time, the requirements you want to meet are actually pretty simple; let me break it down!

Texture, Drainage & Water Retention

It’s easy to get caught up thinking about what nutrients and amendments are in the soil, and those are important, but perhaps the most important aspect of any soil is actually its texture, ability to drain, and overall water “holding” ability.

In order for a cannabis plant to grow and thrive, it needs a good mix of both water and oxygen at the roots at all times! Too much water and the plant roots can’t get enough oxygen (lack of oxygen at the roots is why plants get droopy from overwatering) but on the flip side if there’s not enough water retention the roots can be injured from drying out too quickly!

What gets the best results for growing cannabis is a soil with a light texture that is good at retaining water…but not too much!

Note: Don’t worry, there’ll be examples of good and bad soil in just a bit!

Signs of Good Cannabis Soil

  • Appears dark and rich
  • Loose texture
  • Drains well (doesn’t make a pool on top of your soil for more than a couple of seconds and doesn’t take forever to drain out the bottom)
  • Holds water without getting muddy (you want wet soil, not dirt-batter)

Example of “Good” Cannabis Soil Ingredients

Note: You’ll likely never see any soil mix with ALL those ingredients, but I wanted to share examples of common cannabis-friendly ingredients and amendments that often appear on the label of good soil

If you get the soil part right, you have almost everything you need to get to harvest! With the correct texture, drainage and water retention, you’ve got a perfect base. Add good soil cannabis nutrients, especially in the budding phase, and you should get to harvest with great results!

Example of happy marijuana plants in good soil!

More About Common Amendments to Alter Texture, Drainage & Water Retention of Soil

Perlite

    Perlite is one of the most common soil amendments. It is highly recommended for any soil mix that doesn’t have some already.
  • Very light, airy white “rocks” that feel almost like popcorn and add oxygen while increasing overall drainage ability.
  • Add perlite to the mix (10-40% of the total volume). Use less perlite if you want better water retention and don’t plan on using a lot of extra nutrients. This is because a lot of extra perlite can cause the nutrients leach out faster from the soil. Add higher levels of perlite if you want to use a lot of added nutrients or supplements without burning your plants (since perlite helps prevent nutrient buildup).
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Vermiculite

    Vermiculite “lightens up” heavy soil and improves water retention.
  • Some growers use perlite and vermiculite interchangeably, though they’re not exactly the same. Vermiculite holds water much better than perlite, but is not as effective at adding aeration and drainage.
  • Some growers use a little bit of both. If you go high with vermiculite, you don’t want to go as high with perlite and vice versa. Together, perlite and vermiculite should never make up more than 50% of your soil!

Coco Coir

    Coco coir is made from coconut husks. It can be purchased as loose coco coir, in an amended potting mix, or as coco bricks which needs to be rehydrated before use (learn how to re-hydrate coco bricks). Sometimes you’ll find a “soil” mix that is pretty much all coco plus amendments, and these can be a great choice for cannabis. Coco has some unique properties that make it a good supplement for cannabis soil mixtures.
  • Coco improves water retention, but doesn’t make soil heavy.
  • Roots tend to develop faster and plants are less likely to suffer from overwatering in coco coir.
  • Some growers grow in pure coco, but if you’re adding it to a soil mix as an amendment, you might add 10-30% coco coir.

Worm Castings

    Worm castings is a nice way of saying worm poop, and cannabis plants love it!
  • Improves texture, drainage and moisture retention
  • Add a natural source of nutrients that breaks down slowly
  • Usually contains high levels of beneficial micro-organisms due to going through a worm’s digestive system
  • Add up to 30% worm castings in your soil (although it contains nutrients, it’s gentle enough that it’s unlikely to burn your plants even if you add too much)

Now here are a few examples of good and bad cannabis soil so you can see the texture you’re looking for!

Good Cannabis Soil
Rich and light composted soil. Since this soil doesn’t have a lot of perlite, it’s a good choice for a grower who doesn’t want to add a lot of extra nutrients or supplements in the water.

Good Cannabis Soil
Another light, rich soil mix with great drainage. Although there is a wood chip in this picture, for the most part the mix is completely composted and broken down. It’s normal to see some wood pieces in composted soil, but you don’t want to have to wait for a lot of wood to break down while your plants are growing – you want all that rich nutrient goodness to be readily available to your plant roots

Good Cannabis Soil
This soil has quite a bit of perlite, which is a good choice if you plan to feed heavily with nutrients and supplements since the extra perlite prevents nutrient buildup in the soil

Good Cannabis Soil
The plant is growing in organic, composted “super soil” which has enough amendments to last your entire grow, so the only thing you do is add water!

Here’s organic “super” soil up close

Bad Cannabis Soil
This soil is muddy, clumpy and waterlogged. It retains too much moisture, which makes it really easy to overwater your plants.

Bad Cannabis Soil
Cannabis soil should not have a whole lot of big visible wood chips in it. That means the soil hasn’t been fully composted, and all the nutrients and goodness in that wood is mostly unavailable to your plants.

Bad Cannabis Soil
Although this seedling is over a month old, it has stayed tiny. Its growth is stunted by the thick heavy soil that holds way too much water and not enough air. Note how some of the soil looks like one solid object.

Bad Cannabis Soil
Don’t use dirt from outside! It almost never works, especially if it looks like this!

Suggested Brands for Cannabis Soil

Fox Farm Ocean Forest Soil

Fox Farm has been around for over 30 years and makes some of the most common types of “cannabis soil” (at least in the US). They have several great soil mixes, including “Happy Frog” which is a great choice for seedlings and clones.

Their Ocean Forest soil mix is “hotter” soil (higher levels of nutrients) that contains ingredients that cannabis plants love, including earthworm castings, bat guano, fish meal and crab meal. The nutrients contained in the soil will provide everything your plant needs for several weeks. Although it might give young seedlings just a touch of nutrient burn at first, they can be started in Ocean Forest soil and will soon be able to use the nutrients and start growing quickly. Some growers might put a little big of Happy Frog on top of a container of Ocean Forest, just to make it a little more gentle for seedlings the first week or two.

If you are willing to keep transplanting to bigger pots as your plant uses up the nutrients in the soil, you don’t need to supplement with extra nutrients. However, even if you grow in the same pot from seed to harvest, Fox Farm offers a complete nutrient system that is also formulated for plants like cannabis and goes perfectly with their soil to make sure your plant is getting the right levels of nutrients throughout its life.

This plant is growing in Fox Farm Ocean Forest Soil

Kind “Super” Soil (Living Soil)

When cannabis growers talk about “super” soil, they’re usually referring to soil that has been amended with slow-releasing organic nutrient sources, and then composted for several months (learn more about super soil).

The composting process creates a “living” soil that is full of microorganisms in the rhizosphere (area around the roots). Properly composted soil has nutrient sources that slowly break down over the course of your plant’s lifecycle. It very closely mimics what happens in nature.

Super Soil has a colony of micro-organisms living in the soil which form a symbiotic relationship with your plant roots. They deliver nutrients to your plant, and in return they eat the sugars that get secreted by your roots!

The “micro-herd” in the soil delivers nutrients directly to your plants. As long as you’re using decent water, you usually don’t need to worry about pH or other things that can disrupt nutrient absorption in regular soil.

However, when growing with Super Soil, it’s a good idea to avoid watering too much at a time, as extra runoff waterwill drain away some of the nutrinets. Try to give just enough water to saturate the soil with very little extra coming out the bottom. Since you won’t be adding more nutrients through the grow, you want to conserve what’s in the soil!

Nugbuckets is a famous organic soil grower! Check out his plants!

Organic Potting Mix

This is what kind of soil to get if you don’t have any “good” soil available, but want something that is known to work for growing cannabis.

Generally, anything labeled as an “organic potting mix” will work. This type of mix hasn’t been amended with chemical slow-release nutrients, which is one of the main things you want to avoid with soil for cannabis. I know it sounds like heresy, but even the Miracle-Gro version of “organic potting mix” will work okay, because unlike their original potting mix it doesn’t contain chemical nutrients (though it still has poor drainage and moisture retention – almost any other type of organic potting mix is better!).

Usually an organic potting mix does not have enough nutrients to last your plants for more than a few weeks, so it’s a good idea to always supplement with cannabis-friendly nutrients, especially in the flowering stage when your plant is making buds and needs lots of extra Phosphorus and Potassium.

Espona Organic Potting Mix is found in many stores in the US, and works for growing cannabis!

What to Watch Out For With Any Soil Mix At the Store

  • Look At and Touch It If You Can! You already have an idea what soil should look and feel like, but here’s a test: If you form the soil into a ball, it should stick together loosely, but it should also easily fall apart again if you squeeze it.
  • No “Time Release” Chemical Nutrients in the Soil – These types of soil slowly release nutrients over the course of months, which provides too much Nitrogen in the flowering stage and could possibly impair overall bud growth.
  • Soil Should Appear Dark and Rich – Pale, crumbly or sandy soil usually doesn’t have a lot of nutrient content that the plant roots can get to.
  • Soil Has Little White Rocks In It (Perlite), if you see white, almost fluffy rocks dispersed through the soil like popcorn, that is usually a good sign because it means this potting mix was intended to have good drainage.
  • Soil Isn’t “Heavy” – Cannabis grows best in soil with a light airy texture and great drainage, which may seem almost fluffy when it’s dry.
  • Example of “Good” Soil Ingredients – Composted forest humus, sandy loam, sphagnum peat moss, coco coir (sometimes labeled coco fiber), perlite, earthworm castings, bat guano, fish meal, crab meal, bone meal, blood meal, Azomite, pumice, kelp, dolomite lime, mycorrhizae and leonardite. That’s not everything, just examples of cannabis-friendly ingredients you see the most often
  • Examples of “Bad” Soil Ingredients – You don’t want to see wood or bark on the label if it doesn’t say it’s been composted first. Also if you see just the word “fertilizer” in the ingredients that’s often code for slow-release chemical nutrients, which you don’t want!

Try to get soil that looks like this!

I hope this soil tutorial helps you find the right soil for your cannabis setup!

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